Avoid These Top 6 Post Natal Exercise Mistakes
Given how precious few minutes mothers have to themselves, we can’t afford to waste precious workout time! Instead of telling you what to do, I want to talk about what not to do.
These 6 moves achieve minimal effect or even worse, do more harm than good. Keep reading to avoid the 5 most common postnatal exercise mistakes.
A majority of childbearing women suffer some degree of abdominal separation that lingers after pregnancy, and sadly many conventional core exercises strain the connective tissue in the abdomen, inducing or worsening the condition. Diastasis recti has real health implications, including back pain, urinary stress incontinence (think peeing on yourself) and pelvic dysfunction, not to mention the aesthetic frustration of a stubborn pooch. Exercises to avoid include reverse crunches, sit-ups, crunches, bicycle crunches, and even some classic moves in yoga (boat pose, for instance) and Pilates (double leg lifts, scissors, roll-backs). The very exercises you might be doing to “get your body back” can actually exacerbate the problem you’re trying to fix. To state it as simply as possible: any movement that bulges the abdominal wall forcefully forward will further separate the abdominal muscles, making an existing abdominal separation worse, and possibly even causing one in a previously healthy abdomen. Never brace, barrel or flex the abs forcefully forward in a bulging action.
Stop the conventional abs exercises! A great alternative workout for core strengthening is breathing with your deep abdominal muscles in mind. These challenge you to work every core muscle synergistically.
2) All or nothing (which usually means nothing)
Don’t wait for that fantasized opportunity when you can get away for an hour at the gym! You could be waiting for a very long time, my friends. This will get in the way of meeting your goals. Something is always better than nothing. Each step forward is a step in the right direction, no matter how small. All it takes is less than 30 minutes of
exercise a few days a week to improve. Squeeze in what you can, when you can. You can even include the babe! I often find it easier to get it in while everyone is asleep (granted crossing fingers for zero regressions). Personally, if I do it in the morning - I am less likely to make excuses later in the day. Often, depending on my work day and how it goes, I may skimp out later. Plus, if I kick it out of the way in the morning - I always seem to have a more productive day! Now, if you miss the morning - you can even try a lunch break at work if you can swing it. Figure out how you can carve out a mere 10-30 minutes as a gift to yourself 3-4 days per week! The reality of motherhood is that the more you come to terms with your schedule changing and being better able to adapt to the new life, the better you are at it all. Give yourself grace, some days you will kill it and some days you may feel like even doing basic tasks is exhausting. But guess what, you’re still kicking ass.
3) Boot camp crazy
I know women are often eager to snap back and they often immediately sign up for an intense, sweaty all-out effort boot camp. Great! But, not really. Well, you are doing something, but it probably won’t achieve exactly what you hope. All boot camps are not created equal, and and not every boot camp class is necessarily injurious, but let me remind you that injuries are common, and new moms are especially at risk. Not every “6 week green light” is a true green light. For instance, let’s say you possess a pelvic floor that is not the strongest it could be, then you go to a high intensity class that adds further stress - you could easily be taking 10 steps backwards if you injure yourself. The pelvic floor muscles are the group of muscles responsible for supporting the bladder, uterus and rectum. Think of them as a hammock holding up these organs!
The fast, power moves that define boot camp style classes, place excessive pressure on the abdomen and the pelvic floor. This stress further separates post-pregnancy ab muscles and further weakens the pelvic floor. Note: if you feel bladder pressure or experience “leaking” while performing any exercise, you should not be doing it! Harness the power of science to achieve the body you want without collateral damage. Work smart, not hard!
4) Cardio queen
Are you sticking solely to cardio for every single workout? Whether it’s running or elliptical, or swimming, a cardio-only workout routine will not serve you in the long run.
This can include body weight exercises, free weights or resistance bands – or all of the above. Strength training is vital. It will do more than you realize!
To keep your metabolism ignited, to build strength and improve posture, and to improve muscle mass, you must incorporate strength training! Think of this as an investment. The more muscle you possess (and no, you will not bulk up like this), the more calories you burn at rest!
5) Freezing and stuck in a rut
We all have favorite activities or routines, but we have to keep challenging ourselves in new ways so the body continues to respond and improve. Our bodies are very smart and honeslty, we have to keep it fresh because as humans, we get bored. Definitely include a couple different resistance workouts each week. Take your workout outside for a refreshing change, or inside. The key is to keep mixing it up to stay focused and challenge your body in new ways, getting the most out of each minute.
6) Assuming breastfeeding will melt it away
Are you not losing weight breastfeeding after giving birth? Does breastfeeding cause weight loss or weight gain? In the past, I’ve had countless of other new moms say to me, “I’m breastfeeding! Why aren’t I losing weight?” Real talk ladies, doesn’t it feel like we’ve paid our dues? I mean, we spend 9 months undergoing extreme/often uncomfortable changes to our bodies and then we go through the physically demanding act of childbirth. Once we get to breastfeeding, shouldn’t we get a free pass? The one “benefit” that I’ve heard keeps so many going is its ability to help you shed that baby weight faster. I mean, everyone and their grandma reassures us that breastfeeding makes the fat “melt away”, even a recent tabloid I picked up suggested that a celebrity breastfed herself skinny. It’s no surprise we all believe that the complex postpartum weight loss journey can be boiled down to the magic of one single act.
With that being said, there’s totally some merit to this. The love for science in me would like to elaborate on this. Like all physical acts, breastfeeding requires energy, which translates into burning calories. On average, you burn 20 calories to create 1 ounce of breast milk. If you are producing, on average, 25 ounces of milk a day, then you are requiring an additional 500 calories (burning 500 calories) a day. Now, women often feel like they are eating like a maniac in response to those increased needs, but if you didn’t, you could lose weight. And yes, some women really do lose weight through breastfeeding! However, we’re usually only told half of the story, and though your friend may be losing weight breastfeeding, it might not work that way for you. You may lose some weight and then have a stalling point! You know why? Because the same hormones that assist in breastfeeding also stall some weight loss. It is a season! The babe will not forever feed, trust me when I say that if you just try to form a habit to incorporate better choices in terms of nutrition and continue adding movement to your day - these efforts payoff when you are weaning and done nursing!